Online security and privacy - For friends

Thursday, March 4, 2021

If you ever went through my research page, the work "privacy" appears frequently and is more recent because my PhD work is about location privacy. Let us not go too technical. It just meant that I have learned and worked on privacy, mainly for location data but still about privacy in general. So I think it can be beneficial for my friends to get some information about what is happening around their online privacy and what they can do to balance different aspects, like security, privacy, utility and so on. And you will see those different aspects sometimes agree, sometimes conflict with each other.

I choose privacy as the theme, but many times it would be about security because that is often a more serious issue and I hope people can take care of that quickly. And of course, for individuals, strengthening security often also means improving privacy protection, but not always. For example, you may not want a stranger to see all of your Facebook photos because of your privacy concern. So keeping your Facebook login information safe would also help protect your privacy. One way to further prevent somebody from logging in to your Facebook account is to allow Facebook to send you a text message whenever someone triees to log in. This may concern you because you need to give them your phone number, which they can use for other purposes.

And here is the important thing: I write these things to you as a friend, not your IT support. Of course I hope everyone would at least know something about protecting yourself on the Internet, especially when many things I write will be basic stuff. But people around me and people I know are ones I care most and ones I believe will believe what I say is for their benefit. And I also believe they would be understanding if things I said changed over time or does not apply to some situations. I remember when I helped "fix" computers for my friends years ago. They would give me their computers, let me do anything with it as I saw fit, and understand that what I did and what I told them to do was for their benefit. That is the same theme here.

Now I think it is obvious to talk about passwords first. Next post is here.